Blown By The Wind – Kabanata 9

July 24, 2017 By In Blown By The Wind Comments Off on Blown By The Wind – Kabanata 9

Kabanata 9
Safe

I silently thought about the way my life is in tangle now. Gamit ang aking mga paa ay naghukay ako sa buhangin, wala sa sariling nililibang ang sarili sa tabing dagat.

The sun is setting and I have not heard from my manager. Even a bit.

Vincent is still right. Kung umalis ako kanina at nagpunta sa isang hotel, hindi ko rin mababayaran ang kwarto. Kung bakit inabot ng ganito ka tagal si Tita na tumawag pabalik, knowing my problems, I don’t understand.

I froze when I saw a group of men and some kids coming my way. May dalang mga balde-baldeng isda ang mga ito. The kids were playing paper planes. Tawanan at hiyawan sa kanila kahit na mahirap ang trabaho. Tila isang normal na araw, ngunit para sa akin, hindi.

“Nakarami tayo ngayon,” a man said.
“Yehey ang taas ng lipad noong sa akin!” the boy in probably nine or ten rejoiced.

Ang isang papel na eroplano ang naglanding sa paanan ko. Nilingon ko muli ang grupo at nakitang nakatingin sa akin ang isang batang babae. Siguro’y nasa siyam o sampu rin ang edad nito.

Pinulot ko ang eroplanong papel at nilahad sa kanya. The young girl’s brows furrowed as she looks at me with great intent. I smiled at her to give her an assurance.

Nagulat ako nang tumakbo siya patungo sa akin. Her expression suddenly changed. Galing sa pagtataka ay unti-unti itong naging galit. Before I could react, she kicked my knee twice. She fisted and started pounding on my stomach.

“Si Kuya Zander ay para kay Ate Blair lang! Ugh!”
“Tama na, Anna!” ang batang lalaki ang umawat sa batang babae.

When one of the fisherman saw what happened, padarag nitong nabitiwan ang balde ng isa. Sa buhangin ay nahulog ang mga isda habang ang lalaki’y tumakbo patungo sa dalawang batang nasa harap ko.

I shielded myself using my hands. I tried to block the girl’s punches because they boy did not have enough momentum to stop here.

“Tama na, Anna!” ang mangingisda.

Inangat niya ang naghihisteryang bata. Naangat ang damit nito pataas habang nagpupumiglas.

“Anak, tama na!” pagalit nang awat ng lalaki ngayon.

Nilingon ako ng lalaki. He smiled apologetically at me.

Hindi ko alam na ganoon ka grabe ang dulot ng balitang iyon sa mga tao. I imagine people violently commenting on social media accounts but not this. I imagine their rage for their favorite team but not as far as inflicting physical pain.

“Pasensya na.” Tumagilid ang ulo niya. “May kamukha ka kasi. O ikaw ba iyon, Miss? Idol kasi ng anak ko si Blair at…”

Nanliit ang mga mata ng lalaki. The boy is intently looking at me as well.

“Ate, ikaw ba iyong sa Astra?” he asked.
Ngumiti lamang ako at nag-angat ng tingin sa mangingisda.

My fresh wounds from what happened is not yet healed. Ang pasa na dulot ng pagkakabagok ko kung saan saan ay naroon pa. Kung wala ang mga ito, siguro’y hindi naman ganoon kasakit ang tama ng ginawa noong bata.

“Ayos lang po,” I said changing the topic.

The man’s eyes went behind me. Before I could react, narinig ko na ang nagsalita.

“Anong nangyayari rito, Mang Emil?” Vincent’s commanding voice echoed.
“Ah. Vincent, pasensya na. May bisita ka kasing kamukha ng artista at itong anak ko’y nagwawala.”
“Bitiwan mo ako, tay!” sigaw noong batang babae na nanatili sa mga balikat ng kanyang ama.
“Si Anna ba?” Vincent asked.
“Kuya Vince!” tawag noong batang babae. “Ayaw ko sa kanya! Bakit siya nandiyan?”

For a fleeting moment, I got reminded of myself. Of how hysterical I was way back. Of how naive I was in thinking that my actions don’t really affect other people. My naivete is to the moon and I always blame my lack of love. Pero sa huli, napagtanto kong hindi iyon. It is my choices that make me, not other people’s choices.

If my parents chose a life like that for me, it is normal to feel and act with its ripples, but it is brave to brace it and overcome it.

“Bakit Anna?” tanong ni Vince sa isang banayad nginit may diing boses.
“Girlfriend daw si ni Kuya Zander, ‘di ba? Idol na idol ko ‘yon! Dapat sila ni Ate Blair-”
“Hindi naman totoo iyon,” Vincent said like it is so natural.

Tumawa ang mangingisda. Nanatili naman ang mga mata ng dalawang bata kay Vincent. The boys eyes looked curious. The girl’s eyes looked a bit shocked.

“Girlfriend ko siya, Anna. Kaya paano niya magiging boyfriend ang idol mo?”
“T-Talaga?” the girl looked at me.

Unti-unting nawala ang galit sa mga mata nito. Inayos niya ang buhok na sumabog sa mukha. Basa ang dulo dahil sa mga luha kanina.

Of course, this is not the time to protest on that. Of course, this is not the time to say the truth. And I’m sure Vince is only doing this to calm the girl.

Tumawa ang mangingisda. Inalu ang anak at bumaling sa akin. He gave Vince a nod of approval before finally looking at his daughter.

“Tingnan mo, anak. Nagkamali ka pa tuloy. Manghingi ka ng sorry kay Ate.”

Binaba ng tatay ang kanyang anak. Nang nailapag ito sa buhangin ay kinukusot pa nito ang mga mata. She looked at me with one innocent eye.

Kahit na hindi naman totoo ang sinabi ni Vincent, kailangan kong sakyan iyon. Para maibsan man lang ang galit na nararamdaman ng bata. To save myself. And to save the child from the anger that will eventually eat her.

“Sorry po, Ate,” sabi noong bata at nagtago na sa likod ng tatay nito.

Hilaw na humalakhak ang mangingisda. Binaba ang sumbrero at nilagay sa dibdib.

“Pasensya na, Miss… Vincent…”

Makahulugang tinanguan ng mangingisda si Vincent na nasa likod ko bago nagpaalam ang mga ito na babalik na sa trabaho. Tiningnan ko sila habang naglalakad palayo. The young girl looked at me with so much curiosity bago binalik ang mga mata sa kung saan sila patungo.

I stayed silent until the men were far away and are resuming their laughs. Babaling sana ako kay Vincent nang bigla niyang hinablot ang aking palapulsuhan. For a moment, I remember how firm the way he handled me years ago.

Ang kaba sa aking dibdib ay agad nagparamdam. I turned to him only to be overpowered by his masculinity. Looking back, I realized that I was not really angry or hateful, I was scared.

Tiningnan niyang mabuti ang aking palapulsuhan. Kunot ang kanyang noo habang tinitititigan ang naging pasang linya ng baging. Binawi ko ang kamay ko ngunit pinigilan niya iyon. Imbes ay inangat niya ang aking palapulsuhan para mas lalong makita pa iyon.

“Vincent,” tawag ko,

His angry eyes leveled. His jaw intensely clenched and is disturbingly looking strong.

“Ano ba talaga ang nangyari sa’yo?” he asked in deep tone.

Nanatili ang tingin ko sa kanya. I was a young girl when we both first met. All my decisions were on impulse. Lahat ng ginawa ko’y makasarili. Sa ilang taon na lumipas, nagbago na lahat ng pananaw ko.

But if I tell him now what exactly happened, I don’t think his view of me is any different. I don’t think he’ll realize that this time, I am really telling the truth.

I was harassed by four men. Almost raped if I did not run.

Nakakatawa. Nakakatawa dahil noon, umalis siya dahil inakusahan ko siya ng ganoon. Even when I only want to get rid of him. Even when I did not realize that that was way too far. That my parents would take it seriously. That my mother, who is known to be a Violence Against Women specialist way back when he was a lawyer, will not take it for granted. No matter how worthless I am for them.

“I told you, the wind blew me here,” sabi ko kay Vincent.

Binawi ko ang aking palapulsuhan sa kanya. Nakawala ito ngunit nanatili ang mga mata niya sa akin. Umatras ako, tila ba makakatulong iyon. Because I never liked the feeling when he’s near. Even before.

Nanliit ang mga mata niya. I can sense that he did not believe me at all. Kahit kanina ko pa iyon sinabi.

“Bakit puno ka ng pasa, kung ganoon?”
“From the boat ride. I don’t know. I passed out the whole ride so…”

Hindi siya nagsalit. Ako ma’y nag-iwas na lamang ng tingin ngunit naalala ko ang sinabi niya sa bata kanina. I know that he knows those people pero may pakpak ang balita. Kung sinabi niya sa bata, at narinig ng matatanda, na siya ang boyfriend ko… it will spread.

“Iyong sinabi mo sa bata kanina, alam kong maganda ang intensyon mo roon, pero kapag kumalat iyon, baka mas lalo lang gumulo.”

I glanced at him again. His expression is like a predator ready to strike. His muscles strained and his eyes burning. Tila apoy na ayaw kong mapaso ay muling binaba ko ang tingin ko.

How time did fly and how, even when I can now be proud about something, I am still not confident in front of him.

“Bakit? Totoo ba iyong balita? Is that boy your boyfriend?”

Kumunot ang noo ko.

“Hindi na importante iyon, Vincent.”
“So he is, huh?”

Humakbang siya ng paikot sa akin. Like a predator looking at his prey. Napalunok ako at sinundan ang bawat apak ng kulay dark brown niyang boots. I pressed my lips in a hard line, trying not to speak now that I find him aggressive.

I know that his anger towards me is reasonable. Anyone not guilty of a legal accusation, muntik nang nadungisan ang pangalan, ay may karapatang magalit ng ganito. I cried for months when I realized what I did. I said sorry to my parents. Binawi ko iyong sinabi ko, agaran nang umalis si Vincent sa firm ni Daddy. And immediately, when my father heard that I was lying, he has insulted me in the worst possible way.

“Look, I know you’re angry at me. Hanggang ngayon, Vince. And I know my apology is not enough for you…”

Nasa likod ko na siya ngayon. Humakbang siya sa gilid at nilingon ko ang banda roon. His every step is very pronounced, like he’s thinking deeply about something or about what I’m talking about.

“My mother did not pursue with the case, and I know you know that.”
“And did it even help? Ang mga taong nakarinig noon, tingin mo nagbago ang pananaw nila sa akin, Eury?”

Shit. I know that.

“But I said sorry, Vince! Sinabi ko, maging sa mga kasambahay namin na hindi iyon totoo! I was a brat, alright and they all know that it is my fault!” I know reasoning out is useless. Kahit anong banda tingnan ang ginawa ko, hindi iyon tama.
“My name will never be clean again because of you,” may diin sa pagkakasabi niya. “And your sorry will never be enough.”

Nangilid ang luha ko.

“Then what can I do?” hinarap ko siya.

He stopped moving. Nanatili ang mga mata niya sa akin, mercilessly looking at my eyes without even blinking. Mas lalong sumakit ang dibdib ko. Tumulo ang nagbabadyang luha na agad kong pinalis. I don’t expect him to flinch just because I’m crying. He has every right to be cruel. At naiinis ako dahil alam ko iyon.

“Tell the media that you broke up with your boyfriend. Tell your father that you’re marrying me.”

Natigil ang luha ko sa sinabi niya. Tumuwid ako sa pagkakatayo.

Ang kulay kahel na langit ay mas lalong nagpatingkad sa golden brown niyang kulay. His hair tousled by the sea breeze. The ends of his hair on the back reached to his nape.

This is impossible. Just impossible.

Iniisip kong gusto niyang maangkin ang firm ni Daddy ngunit sa pangalan niya ngayon, I highly doubt that he’d need anyone’s help! He has achieve far more than what my Daddy has achieved. If he wanted the firm, he could’ve offered that to Ate Lyanna!

He is the country’s number one architect with a notorious silent label of being lady’s man. No need to woo women. His money, appeal, and name will attract woman like a moth to the lamp!

“Vincent,” nanginig ang boses ko.

His eyes surveyed me for a moment. Bumuga siya ng hininga. He cocked his head to another side, like he’s trying to figure me out.

Instantly, the reason for his offer registered to me. Alam ko. Kapag ginawa ko ang gusto niyang mangyari, he will be cleared from whatever gossip there is about him. People who knew will conclude that he never forced me to do anything. Not that he really did anything to me.

“Hindi na natin pa kailangang umabot pa sa ganyan-”

My thoughts whirled around his offer. This is not simply an offer. This is revenge, for sure. Kapag sinabi ko sa media na kami at hindi si Zander, my relationship with Zander will suffer. And while we’re at it, I am very sure that his escapades with other women will never end. And that, I will be, in the end a loser.

Kahit na alam kong iyon ang gusto niyang mangyari. He wants to drain me. He wants to punish me from all the stupid things I did back when I was sixteen.

“Ang dali mong masabi ‘yan, hindi ba? Dahil hindi naman ikaw ang may sirang pangalan. I will never accept your apology. It will never be enough.”

Yumuko ako. Humakbang siya pabalik sa likod ko. Hindi ko siya sinundan ng tingin. I am indeed, drained. Ngayon pa lang, nagtatagumpay na siya.

“You have destroyed my name just so you can get rid of me! Kahit kailan, hindi ako nagkaroon ng interes sa negosyo ng Daddy mo. At kahit kailan…” his voice now soft and tender.

His rough hand caressed my soft cheek. Basa iyon sa mga luha at patuloy parin akong lumuluha ngayon.

“Hinding-hindi kita pipilitin,” mahinahon iyon ngunit puno ng insulto sa tono. “So I don’t know why you’d deliriously tell people that I forced you to bed. I don’t know why you think you can tempt anyone with your face and body.”

Ngumuso ako habnag pumapatak ang aking mga luha. He wiped a tear with his thumb. Hindi ko maiwas sa kanya ang aking mukha.

Ganoon na ba talaga siya kasama? Alam kong may kasalanan ako pero kailangan ba ng ganito para mapatawad ako? Para malinis ang pangalan niya?

But then who am I to question what he needs? I am the author of his struggle. I did it to him. I have no right to question however he wants to be paid for what I did.

Kung sana ay alam ko noon pa. Kung sana ay matagal ko nang tinanggap iyon.

That my attraction towards him is confused with jealousy and anger. That I always thought I’m angry at him because he has my family’s attention. Hindi pala… Galit ako sa kanya dahil hindi niya ako makita bilang isang babaeng may kapasidad sa buhay at sa emosyon. Ang tanging nakikita niya sa akin ay ang pagiging batang mahina. Wala nang iba.

“Fine!” wala sa sarili kong sinabi.

Hinarap ko siya. I can tell that he was a bit stunned by my sudden agreement. My eyes burned at the sight of him.

I don’t want this a bit. I don’t want his wrath. He’s avoided this confrontation as well that no matter how much my father wanted to see him, he didn’t let him. At ngayong kami na mismong dalawa ang nagkita, sa akin niya pinapasan ang problemang ibinigay ko sa kanya.

Kung ganoon, tatanggapin ko. Tatanggapin ko ang kung ano mang kasalanan ko.

He lifted his chin for a bit in a cocky way. Isang pamilyar na boses ng isang bata ang narinig ko kung saan.

“Tito Vince! Tito Vince!” Milo called running towards us.

Pinalis ko ang luha sa aking mga mata para hindi makita ng bata. The boy is bringing a large phone, na sa pagkakaalam ko’y kay Vincent. It is ringing, an unknown number is registered.

“Sabi ni Mommy, mukhang kay Ate Ganda ‘yan!” si Milo.

Kinuha iyon ni Vincent. Tiningnan ng ilang sandali bago inilahad sa akin. I snatched the phone immediately, eager for a call from my manager.

“Tita,” I answered.
“Eury, where are you?” she sounded serious now. “I have news.”
“Nasa… Nasa ano po…”

Tiningnan ko si Vincent para sa isasagot. He shifted to another side before answering.

“Aklan,” Vincent said coldly.
“Aklan,” I echoed to the phone.
“Make your position known. Log in to your social media networks.”
“P-Po? Bakit po?” medyo lito kong tanong.
“Hija, umuwi kagabi ang apat na kasama mo sa Romblon. They arrived here in Manila past ten. Hubert’s grandpa called immediately for a meeting. He wants his grandson out of any charges from your disappearance o kung magpapakita ka man, dapat walang kinalaman si Hubert sa nangyari sa’yo.”

My heart ached. Kung alam ba ng makasalanan na pinaparusahan sila, kailangan bang tanggapin na lamang iyon? To suffer in exchange of forgiveness? Is it really how it works? If it is, then I would gladly take it.

“Now just one in the afternoon of today,” nanginig ang boses ni Tita sa pagpapatuloy. “Three of the boys were found dead in Hubert’s apartment. Throat slashed and…” napalunok si Tita sa sinabi.

Ang kalabog sa puso ko ay mas lalong nadepina. My eyes widened in horror when I realized what is happening.

“… maraming saksak. Hubert is not found so everyone assumed that he’s the killer.”
“W-What?”
“Yes, Eury. The authorities are still investigating. They are also searching for him.”
“Tatlong lalaki po?” tanong kong muli.
“Yes, exactly those who were part of your shoot. Iyong stylist, at ang dalawang photographer, Eury.”

Hindi ako nakapagsalita. Nanunuyo ang lalamunan sa takot.

“Ngayon, kaninang umaga, pinaputok na ang balita ninyo ni Zander. This is the company’s way of warning for you, if ever you were alive. Hindi alam na ganito ang mangyayari ngayong hapon!”

I’m sure I paled. Hinarap ako ni Vincent. The expanse of his broad shoulders is blinding me of the old mansion in front.

“What is it?” he said with brows furrowed.

Humugot ako ng malalim na hininga.

“I’m sure media won’t ask you anymore questions. Hindi lang dahil inipigilan iyon ng President, ngunit dahil na rin masyado silang nagulat sa nangyari kay Hubert!”

I still couldn’t say anything. Humakbang palapit si Vincent sa akin, hindi alam kung saan ako titingnan.

“Hija, are you still there?”

Kumurap-kurap ako.

“Contact your parents. I will send you another P.A. for your things. As for your cards, pinoproseso ko pa kaya pera ang ibibigay ko sa’yo. H’wag kang mag-alala, pinaghahanap si Hubert ngayon ng mga awtoridad-”
“T-Tita, I-I’m scared. What if he’ll come after me?”

Umigting ang panga ni Vincent, umaambang magsasalita ngunit hindi tinutuloy.

“He won’t. He is now wanted b the authorities. Mahihirapan iyong harapin ka, Eury. In the mean time, watch the news and be safe. Are you staying in a hotel? I trust Zander will take care of the issue between you. Saang hotel ka ba, Eury?”
“I-I’m not staying in a hotel, Tita.”
“Then, where? Are you safe?”

Am I safe?

The wind blew my hair. The waves crashed on the shore as I lifted my eyes up to meet Vincent’s gaze. I startled him with the eye contact. Mas lalo siyang lumapit na tila gustong malaman ang kahit ano sa nangyayari sa akin.

“Yes.”

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